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December 2020 - Looking Back

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Well today is the last day of December but also the final day of one of the strangest years I think we will ever experience. I have spent some time looking back at 2020 and although we did have some nice times together, I'm glad it's over. I think like most people December is the month when we spend far too much, eat far too much but absolutely love spending time together with family and friends. For most of the UK this wasn't possible due to tiers and lockdowns but I hope if you were affected then you were still able to enjoy December and Christmas as best you could. 

mum and son looking at each other


We have remained in Tier 2 for most of this month so we have been allowed to go to the shops, visit the hairdressers and barbers and also see friends under the rule of 6. However even though we were allowed we didn't head out unless absolute necessary and spent most of the month in just our own bubble of 4.

elf on the shelf in a glass jar


Our month began with our Elf, Jingle returning from the North Pole. He was in Elf Isolation for 72 hours but once he was free he caused lots of mischief around the house and little J loved it. He has now returned to the North Pole to rest and prepare for next Christmas. 

3 people walking

3 people walking

3 people walking over a bridge


We decided to join The National Trust this month after enjoying a few walks and in December we visited a Christmas Trail at Tatton Park and also headed to Dunham Massey for a Peter Rabbit Trail. We love the outdoors and exploring so I know we will make good use of our passes in 2021. 

boy with muddy football boots


Little J managed to squeeze some football in-between lockdowns and tier changes and it was good to see him back on the pitch after having so much time off this year. Luckily he still enjoys it and cannot wait to return next week. 

Big J finished his online university course for Christmas a week earlier than us so enjoyed some time away from the screen. I hate that his university experience is online. He is not having the experience he expected but I am so proud he is sticking at it. He is back a week later than us in January so hopefully things may change in the world soon and he can start to head out rather than being stuck in his room. 

Disneyland Paris Bauble


I have said this so many times over the last few months and it still makes me want to cry but this year is the first in many many years that we haven't been to Disneyland Paris at Christmas time. It's a huge part of our Christmas and not being there felt wrong. Big and Little J surprised us with a Disneyland Paris decoration that they had ordered for us and it's just perfect.

Present Poem


Little J was both sad and happy on his last day of school. He finished all his work including this poem which he wrote himself and we just love. He was happy to finish but also sad as he was going to miss his friends. His friends are so important to him and they are all lovely but he will be back with them soon. 

Christmas at Alton Towers

Christmas at Alton Towers

Christmas at Alton Towers

Christmas at Alton Towers

Christmas at Alton Towers


We managed another day out in-between lockdowns and tier changes to Alton Towers. This is another tradition for us and whilst it wasn't the same as usual, Alton did an amazing job at making it safe for everyone. It was really quiet and at times it felt like there was only us there. We didn't think we would be able to see Santa this year but we did and the whole experience was fantastic. 

a tractor decorated in Christmas Lights


The week before Christmas we did something unusual we headed out to watch a tractor convoy parade which was raising money for a children's hospital. 80 tractors decorated with Christmas lights passed by and although it may seem random it was really good.

man and woman in christmas jumpers


John and I managed to squeeze in a date night. We popped on our Christmas jumpers and headed to Breakout to tackle a Christmas themed escape room. It was lots of fun and we escaped with 14 minutes to spare. 

queue


The day before Christmas Eve we all went to be tested for Covid-19 at a no symptoms test centre. It was so cold and raining and we had to queue for almost 2 hours but it was worth it so we could see our Christmas bubble safely on Christmas Day. 

a selection of presents


Father Christmas came on Christmas Eve and brought lots of presents for little J. Our Christmas was quieter than usual but we all enjoyed it and we got to see both sets of parents on the day so that was lovely and more than I think we expected. 

a family playing a board game


Christmas came and went and we were left with lots of toys and games to play with and that's pretty much what we did for the days after. 

The weather wasn't great but we did manage a few walks to blow away the cobwebs which was nice. Despite everything that is happening in the UK and the World right now we did have a lovely December and we are looking forward to a much happier and brighter year in 2021. 

Michelle
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Shopping For Festive Food On A Budget at Jack's | AD

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Disclosure - This is a paid collaboration with Jack's. All thoughts, opinions and photographs are our own. 

Christmas is nearly here and I know most of you will be getting ready for the big day. Whilst this Christmas may be different in so many ways we can still make it special. Like most we will be spending most of our time at home and I want to make sure we have lots of festive treats to enjoy. We recently went to Jack's to stock up on goodies perfect for Christmas time and our budget too.

Decorate for Christmas Dining table


What Is Jack's Supermarket
Jack's is a supermarket that was founded and named after Jack Cohen who is also the founder of Tesco. As well as Jack's own branded products you can also find a selection of Tesco and Britain's favourite brands in store. It's a go to supermarket that is very popular as you can shop quality products at outstanding value. 

As well as selling food and drink you can also browse the toys, games and homeware. 

A selection of Jack's Foods


What Seasonal Treats Can You Look Forward To?
Jack's have special products in their festive range including mince pies, mini toad in the hole and a giant festive sausage roll! They also have a great veggie range of festive nibbles so can guarantee you will find something that the whole family will love!

The festive range can be found both in the chilled and frozen section. 

Jack's Toad In The Hole

Jack's Mince Pie

Jack's Mini vegetable spring rolls


We were in desperate need of a pick me up after a wet and cold week so enjoyed a festive movie night with a selection of party nibbles. The quality of Jack's own products has always been good and excellent value for money. 

Can I Buy Everything For Christmas Dinner At Jack's?
Absolutely. Jack's has everything you need for the perfect Christmas Dinner with 100% of Jack’s fresh turkey, chicken, beef and lamb being British. You can also find all your trimmings plus some special festive treats including mini toad in the holes and pigs in blankets. 

We all like a nice tipple on Christmas day and you will find a range of festive drinks to to make the day extra special.

Is It Good Value For Money?
Yes. We usually shop on a budget anyway however for this particular shop we had a budget of £40 in mind and we actually didn't spend it all and purchased enough food, treats and drinks for our plans. 

Where Can I Find A Jack's Store?
Jack's has twelve  stores in the UK and they can be found at St Helen's, Sheffield, Edge Hill, Barnsley, Immingham, Wakefield, Liverpool North, Walton, Rubery, Castle Bromwich, Chatteris and Middlewich. 

Table decorated for Christmas


We have been shopping at Jack's for quite some time now and I knew their festive range would not disappoint. When it comes to Christmas food we usually focus on a typical Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and then spend the rest of the time enjoying snacks and party food. It will mainly just be the four of us but we all have different tastes when it comes to food and I tend to sway towards more vegetarian options so we were pleased to find lots of vegetarian festive treats too. 

Michelle
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It's A Long Night For Santa Book

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Disclosure | This post contains a gifted item and affiliate links.

Last week I wrote all about our favourite Christmas stories but I have another to add after reading It's A Long Night For Santa with little J. It is Christmas Eve night and the Little Brown Moth finds himself lost in a blanket of fog. He spies a distant red light and realises that – yes! – it is Rudolph and the other reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh! The moth stops for a rest upon the sleigh, where he is found by Santa. Having a longer-than-normal “good children list”, Santa enlists the moth’s help to deliver the remaining presents, making one particular little boy’s Christmas dream come true.

It's A Long Night For Santa Book


It’s a Long Night for Santa is the second instalment from Chris, following on from It’s a Long Way to the Moon, where we first meet the determined little brown moth.


Our giveaway is now closed but you can if you would like your own copy of It's a long night for Santa then you can purchase on Amazon above. 

Good Luck

Michelle
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Holly's Festive Feast Christmas Trail, Tatton Park

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We have begun our Christmas Festivities with a trip to Tatton Park to enjoy the Christmas Garden Trail, Holly's Festive Feast. 

holly's festive feast sign



boy with rabbit statue



What To Expect At A Christmas Trail: Holly's Festive Feast, Tatton Park, WA16 6QN (Sat Nav WA16 6SG)
Holly the Hare needs your help, she’s been invited to a festive garden feast with Tatton Park’s other woodland friends, but she’s mislaid her invitation! Journey through the Gardens and help solve the puzzles to find her friends at their Christmas party.

Holly Festive Feast party pack


The trail begins at The Gardens entrance where you can pick up your party pack. Inside you will find an animal mask, candy cane, pencils, pencil, sticker, tag for the wish tree and a question sheet and map. 

boy looking at an arrow sign


Next you need to follow the arrows to find the clues to help Holly The Hare get to the party in time. 

Holly's Festive Feast clue

man and boy writing


There are 6 clues in total which take you all around the gardens. You can also head off on different paths to explore if you wish but make sure you get back on track as you don't want to miss the party.

Each clue is easy to solve although younger ones may need a little help from a grown up. Just below each clue is a beautiful stature of Holly The Hare. 

Once you have worked out the clues, pop your answer on the sheet and then head off to find the next clue. 

Two boys looking at a clue

Boy looking at a sign


When you find clue number 6 you then have to find Holly's invitation which will then tell you where the party is. 

Holly's Festive Feast

Holly's Festive Feast

Holly's Festive Feast


Once you have found the party venue join the queue and wait your turn to head inside and see the animals enjoying their party. 

Holly's Festive Feast wish tree

Holly's Festive Feast wish tree

Holly's Festive Feast wish tree




wish tree

Although Holly The Hare made it to her party in time there is still more to do. Next head to the wish tree to put on your own wish.

Roasting marshmallows

Roasting marshmallows

Eating a roasted marshmallow

Eating a roasted marshmallow


Last but not least follow your nose to find Pat the jolly Gardener whose job it is to care for the gardens and wildlife. Pat’s keeping warm by the fire roasting chestnuts.You can even enjoy a chestnut or roast your own marshmallow before heading to the exit as your trail comes to an end.

Anything Else?
Holly's Festive Feast Christmas Trail is available on selected dates
Sat 28th - Sun 29th November
Tues 1st  - Sun 6th December
Tues 8th - Sun 13th December
Tues 15th - Thurs 24th December (including 21 Monday Dec)
Sat 26th December - Sun 3rd January (including 28 Monday Dec)

The trail opens at 10am - 4pm (with the last entry being 3pm). The trail took us well over 2 hours as we explored around the gardens and woodlands so entering at 3pm may cut your time short as it closes at 4pm.

Entry to the mid-winter gardens this festive season is £8 an adult, £6 a child and free for National Trust members.

To experience the full trail experience you may want to the purchase the party pack mentioned above. This costs an extra £2.

There are no toilets inside the garden area so make sure you head to the toilets before you enter which are just outside the gardens entrance. 

Refreshments are available for take away only at Stable Restaurant plus there are snacks, ice creams and drinks available in the gift shop. 

There are lots of picnic benches and tables available to enjoy a picnic for takeaway at with some being under a marquee. 

Head to the Stables Restaurant for festive food and drink and browse pop up Christmas stalls in the stableyard - a mini market of local traders selling homeware, Christmas gifts and more.  This is available to enjoy 11am-4pm
Fri 4, Sat 5 and Sun 6 December
Fri  11, Sat 12 and Sun 13 December 

The cosy Gardener's Cottage this Christmas is inviting you to experience the delights of a Festive Afternoon Tea – and great news for little ones -  they can feel special too with their own limited edition mini festive tea with choice of sandwiches, crisps, hot chocolate or juice and a Christmas tree cookie. Available to enjoy Tuesday - Sunday from 2 Dec until 3 Jan 2021 

Parkland is closed Mondays and open Tuesdays - Sundays 10am – 5pm (last entry 4pm)
Farm and Mansion are currently closed. 

All vehicles will be charged £7 parking fee, this is half price for blue badge holders, cyclists and pedestrians are free to enter.

Please ensure you follow social distancing rules & Government guidelines and if somewhere is busy on arrival, please consider leaving and returning at a later date. 

Face coverings are required in the cafe, gift shop and also the toilets for those aged 11+ (usual exemptions apply)  

Check for local lockdowns / travel restrictions before visiting anywhere. 

Always check with the venue direct as things may have changed after this post was published. 

What Is Close By?
Dunham Massey, WA14 4SJ - 15 Minute Drive
Dunham Massey is a green oasis nestled between the urban sprawl of Manchester and rural tranquillity of Cheshire.

Arley Hall and Gardens, CW9 6NA - 15 Minute Drive
Arley Hall & Gardens is a place of enormous character, charm and interest. Visitors are frequently struck by the warm and intimate atmosphere and the feeling that Arley is a much-cherished family home.

Further Away.
Dream, WA9 4BB - 30 Minute Drive
Dream is a huge sculpture of a child's face situated in the middle of Sutton Manor. You may have read our post recently about our visit to Dream. It's just a 30 Minute Drive from Tatton Park and nice easy walk to enjoy.

Speke Hall Estate and Gardens, L24 1XD - 40 Minute Drive
Speke Hall Gardens and Estate is a National Trust property just outside Liverpool with lots of walking trails, adventure playground and beautiful views of the River Mersey.

Holly's Festive Feast Christmas Trail at Tatton Park will definitely put you in a festive mood and ready for the big day. 

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Michelle
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